Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is a challenging, yet very rewarding role-playing experience.
The story of Valkyrie Profile 2 features Silmeria, a Valkyrie who has been kept from entering the world by Odin. Needless to say, she is rather upset by this, and is determined to exact vengeance. She travels in the host body of Alicia, a princess who has a personality that is almost the exact opposite of Silmeria. The dialogue between the two is sometimes confusing, though it soon becomes apparent who's who, and the different color subtitles depending on who is speaking helps distinguuish the two. Simeria's story is heavy on references to Norse mythology, and sometimes requires a little bit of thinking to fully understand. As a prequel to the original Valkyrie Profile, it contains some spoilers from the first game in its story.
|Often, this is about as quiet as the battle system gets.
One complaint about the story is the utter lack of development for the einherjar. These einherjar are souls of former warriors that characters can pick up throughout the game. As well, they are all fairly unique and have potential to make for some interesting plot, but unfortunately after the player harvests them they take no part in the plot other than perhaps a random appearance later in the game if the einherjar has been freed by the player. The story is told entirely about the primary characters, and because of the lack of development of the einherjar, players may simply choose to level up only the "main" characters of the game. This would be a grave mistake, however, as the leveling and "Freeing" einherjar can have some huge benefits. All einherjar will grant players an item when they are freed, and this item generally has some quite generous stat bonuses. If the player worked
quite hard leveling the einherjar, teaching them skills, and giving them good equipment, the einherjar may give extra items upon release or next time the player sees them in the world. The system gives some pretty nice stat bonus items and good weapons, but it just feels as though the einherjar deserve more than a sentence or two description of their past, if that, that the game gives them.
The battle system of Valkyrie Profile 2 is quite unique. At first it may appear to be a real time system, but in fact it is much closer to a strategy role-playing game battle system than that of an action RPG. Players are granted control of a party of up to four characters, who are free to move about on the battle screen. Players are often outnumbered by the enemy, however the game makes a rather interesting system by having "Leader" enemies. If the party manages to take down the leader enemy, all the other enemies on the screen will flee, and in fact the game rewards players generously for going straight for the lead enemy. Extra experience and special "leader items" are just a few of the rewards given to players for quick elimination of the enemy party's leader, not to mention it reduces the amount of damage the player takes as they don't have to take down every single enemy on
the screen. It is a rather unique twist that can take some getting used to, but once the difficulty gets into full swing, it is obviously a system that makes sense for the game.
Enemies are only spurred into motion by movement of the player's party, so a lot of strategy can come into play. Players can stay out of the way of enemy attacks by using the R1 button to dash past them. They can split up parties into several groups and control them individually to help gang up on enemies. When at last the player comes close enough to attack an enemy, they can attack by pressing the buttons that correspond with each character to have them launch attacks for either as long as the AP lasts or until the characters' attacks run out. Players can also choose to cast magic or use items by opening the menu, but each time the player opens the menu, they must wait a set amount of time before using it again. The game does have a certain Strategy RPG feel to it, as most of the time the maps allow a fairly large range of movement, and later in the game the maps feature more
and more obstacles and terrain. The layout of the battle is wholly unique and fun throughout the game. Valkyrie Profile 2'a battle system actually has quite a few systems being used at once, and can take a lot of getting used to. Because of this, the game has a rather steep learning curve. The game is also quite difficult, and although some players will be able to simply use strategy, the vast majority of gamers will need to spend significant amounts of time leveling their characters. This can be seen as a bad or a good thing, but the fact that the battle system is incredibly fun really makes it hard to fault the developers for encouraging players to spend some extra time using it.
|Alicia is impressed by the great visuals too.
Equipment and skill systems of Valkyrie Profile 2 can also take some getting used to. Every piece of equipment has a certain rune assigned to it. Players must equip certain combinations of these runes in order to unlock skills. They must also leave that exact combination of runes equipped long enough to learn the skill. It takes a while to figure out the nuances of the system, but once mastered, the skill system isn't too difficult.
Dungeoneering and exploration in the game is also a unique aspect. The game plays much like a 2D side scrolling platformer. The manipulation of objects in dungeons, including enemies, plays a major role in how the game is played. While some may not like the side scrolling aspects of the game or write it off as archaic, the developers really took it to a level that very few RPGs are able to pull off.
The game also features a unique shop system. As players spend more money at a certain armory or store, they unlock more items that can be available for sale. However, once players unlock these items, they also need to collect the ingredients required to make it and sell them to the store. It's a nice way to earn some money back from the store, but players still have to spend a sometimes enormous amount of money to purchase the item.
Graphically, Valkyrie Profile 2 is quite impressive. Its environments are varied and the characters are lavishly detailed; it simply looks amazing. The only complaint in the graphical department is that a lot of time the characters' lip sinc is completely off, and that's on the rare occasions that the characters do move their lips.
The music of Valkyrie Profile 2 is great. All tracks suit the feel of the game that they appear in. This music sometimes has a couple neat elements added in too: often, the symphonic track might have an electric guitar thrown in, but thankfully the music never feels out of place.
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is an RPG that experiments with most of the standards of Japanese role-playing games. The fact that it is largely successful in innovating is a testament to the design team. The battle system is highly inventive and fun, the storyline remains interesting throughout (despite taking a while to develop), and the production values are superb. While the high learning curve and somewhat steep difficulty may drive off some gamers, overall the vast majority of RPG fans will find this a game worth playing.